Theories of Conspiracy

President Zuma dodges his day in court.

President Jacob Zuma, solicited for absence at the Johannesburg High Court, is to appeal a decision that was made by the Pretoria High Court on the 16th of August. The court ordered Nomgcobo Jiba, the acting head of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), to give copies of the ‘Spy Tapes’ to the registrar. This decision was in response to the application made by the Democratic Alliance (DA) at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The cause of the whole ‘Spy Tapes Saga’ came to light when Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was charged with fraud and corruption. Zuma was seen as the spearhead when charges were brought forward. It was believed Shaik compensated Zuma with R500 000 per annum to gain government contracts and favour in his company, without expectation of repayment. Shaik was then convicted of fraud and corruption and sentenced to 15 years in prison. This led to Zuma’s dismissal by former President Thabo Mbeki, leading to the appointment of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as Deputy President.

Ngcuka is also the wife of Bulelani Ngcuka, who was the head of the NPA at the time and who would later become a key figure in Zuma’s near-demise. Ngcuka was also the main contributor to the charges against Zuma being dropped when new evidence came to light. The so-called ‘Spy Tapes’ were said to feature Ngcuka and Leonard McCarthy (the former head of the disbanded Scorpions) discussing when to prosecute Zuma: before or after the African National Congress’ 52nd National Conference at Polokwane. ‘The Big man’ was referred to numerous times in the recordings but the question remains as to who this ‘Big man’ was. Thabo Mbeki perhaps?

Source: Photographer: Pierre de Vos

Political stare-off: President Zuma with Former President Mbeki at ANC rally.                             Source:                              Photographer: Pierre de Vos                            

Judge Christopher Nicholson declared that he would not rule out the possibility of ‘political interference’, a claim that was also made by Zuma a week after the ruling. ANC General Secretary Gwede Mantashe made an announcement that Thabo Mbeki was going to be recalled by the ANC.Two days later, in a 15-minute speech after spending so many years in office, Mbeki was recalled and he resigned as president of South Africa. Hours later, Mbeki applied for leave of absence to appeal the decision made by Judge Nicholson.

Soon after, Kgalema Motlanthe then elected as acting head of State while Zuma was head of the ANC. The ANC felt that it would be difficult to rule the country with two different leaders, one leader for the ruling party and the other as President. This begs the question: wasn’t Motlanthe’s promotion null and void?

This might prove the allegations that Motlanthe took orders from Zuma when he fired Vusi Pikoli, who was briefly head of the NPA. Pikoli was the one who officially charged Zuma with fraud and corruption. The parole board released Shaik because of his deteriorating health condition. A few months later, he was seen ‘fit-as-a-fiddle’ with no symptoms of sickness whatsoever. Yunis Shaik, Schabir’s brother and defence attorney, allegedly knew that Shaik was going to be released before the decision was even made. So this begs the question: how did he know the outcome of the parole board’s decision before it even happened?

With the DA fighting to obtain the spy tapes, it raises questions the question: why are they only fighting to get them released now? Is this a tactic to try and win votes in next year’s elections?

Other questions abound: What impact would the tapes cause for the ANC if they were to be released? With so many political parties being formed recently, one has to wonder if ANC would remain as powerful as they’ve been in the last 19 years. Most of the ANC’s support stems from the older generation who are still loyal to them for helping to liberate the country. One has to wonder what the outcome of the upcoming elections will be as the rate of mortality in the older generation is increasing.

Political Scientist Keith Gottschalk believes that the release of the tapes would have no effect on the ANC. Gottschalk says: “I think all the people outraged by this non-prosecution already vote DA, so there would be very little change.”

But why is Zuma going against the court order from The Pretoria High Court to release the tapes? Is there anything on the tapes that could prove that he is guilty of fraud and corruption? One has to echo an open letter written by Kenny Kunene that raised questions about the leadership of Zuma. Kunene wrote: “In public you smile and laugh, but in truth you behave like a monster, a tyrant who will target perceived enemies ruthlessly, and because of that fear few dare to speak openly.”

The ‘Spy Tapes’, Kunene’s calling out of Zuma as a ‘dictator’ and the Guptagate scandal are all issues that are stacked against our president. This makes one wonder whether South Africans still have faith in Zuma. And with the in-fighting in the ANC, there is speculation as to whether they’ll be able to win so heavily again.

Brent Smith, Vuyiseka Dyantyi and Zukiswa Lutya


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